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The 10 big assumptions you have to make if you want to assume Arsenal will fail this year

Going off on holiday for a couple of weeks always makes me feel that when I return there ought to be something BIG – some incredible news that has changed the world while I have been away.

Of course it is rarely like that and I returned late last night to see that Newcastle are in crisis, Read Mad are buying people, 135% of Gooner readers think we are going to be relegated and West Ham are going bust. So all the usual stuff.

Obviously I was living in a different world while in Italy – I didn’t have the internet (I could have done but thought the hotel price was a bit steep what with the pound now worth less than 0.02 flavian pobble beads) and the only sports channel was Eurosport Italy which is quite keen on cycling, so I contented myself with text updates from my mate Ian, and occasional reading of the previous day’s international edition of the Guardian.

But as I sat by the pool doodling on the back page of the Guardian while pretending to do the crossword at hyper speed I began to contemplate how different the Ems Cup was this year as opposed to last.

Last year, I seem to recall that the Saturday match involved Arsenal putting out a team of six year olds, keeping the 15 year olds for the big game on sunday (I say this without checking my facts – sorry if my memory is wrong). This year (and obviously I was not there and did not see the games on TV either) it seems to me that the Lord Wenger had his team sorted for the season, and that was that. The only youngster coming through and being given his big outing was Fran Merida. Obviously Jack was there, and Traore, but basically looking at the team sheets I had the view that this was it. The long waiting and planning to create a completely new team, largely out of players that Wenger has developed, was not up and running and ready for inspection.

Which is rather exciting.

What also struck me as I wondered how much more of this continuous bloody sunshine I could take, and doesn’t it ever rain in northern Italy, was that to be negative about Arsenal this season you now have to make all sorts of assumptions.

Such as

1: Eduardo and Rosicky will get injured again or will never recover anything like their old form

2: Denilson will finally live up to this journalistic shorthand description and become “lightweight”

3: Song stops developing into an all purpose all round central midfielder/defender

4: Vermalen this year is not one hell of a lot better than Toure last year

5: Arshavin, having had a rest and now playing centre forward is not a hell of a lot better than Adebayor last year

6: We will once again spend much of the season putting out teams of five or six backup players rather than playing our first choice team most of the time

7: We will once again lose the entire midfield for a couple of months

8: That Ramsey and Wilshire are still no good for anything that cup matches and brief cameos (although I do recall that Ramsey played in the Euro game last August/September).

9: We will once again lose the entire defence for a month right when it matters at the end of the season

10: Bendtner will not continue to improve but will return to the struggle that he had mid season last year, and Wenger will continue to play him even though he has Eduardo, VP, Arshavin, and Vela.

Now if you make ALL those assumptions then yes, we are going to have to fight for 4th place this year.

But just supposing one (just one, I only ask for one, no more, just one) of these assumptions is not true. For example, just for the point of illustration, let us assume that Wilshere really has come good now, and that if Theo is out of form or finds another shoulder to crock he can give a good account of himself, during the 2 months, then Jack plays and that might turn a couple of 0-0 draws into 1-0 wins. An extra four points.

Or if we assume that Eduardo is back on form and plays in 50% of the games then we should get an extra 10 goals which might be worth an extra three points.

Or if we assume that Arshavin really has got the measure of English football now, and is going to play the whole season not half of it, then that must be worth some more goals and some more sublime passes which must turn a couple more 0-0 draws into wins – another six points perhaps.

Of course you can’t assume that all this happens – but my point is that by assuming that just a few of the negatives that are predicted everywhere DON’T happen, then you have the distance between us and Manchester IOU made up.

I realise of course that this argument may have been made in 100 web sites during the past week and I might just be repeating everyone’s point, but I think this side is what has been in Wenger’s mind for the past four years. I return to the UK rather hopeful – although I admit so far all I have seen is Barnet away.

Final point: there are several million comments on the blog submitted during my time away, plus another thousand or so sitting in moderation. I have not yet had a chance to read them all – but I will – and can I thank everyone in advance for taking the trouble to write in. Even the gent from Russia who keeps wanting to tell us about a certain drugs range he has on offer on his web site.

It’s really nice to be back.

(c) Tony Attwood 2009

44 comments to The 10 big assumptions you have to make if you want to assume Arsenal will fail this year

  • TheSKAGooner

    Ahhh…thank goodness! Welcome back, Tony! 🙂

  • IndianGooner

    Welcome back Tony.. Hope you had a great holiday in Italy..

    The last 2 days without any posts/comments on this site were hard to pass.

  • Adamebayor

    Hey man, I´m a first time reader but I think your article has an interesting structure and it made it an enjoyable read. I doubt we´ll sign anyone else before the end of the January transfer window, therefore I think we´ll be relying on that Emirates Cup crop to get us through the season. Without injuries and some (NOT ALL) progress from talented but albeit unproven players [See Bendtner, Diaby, Song, Ramsey, Wilshire, Traore, Vela). We may have the capacity to win the league. However, that is a big MAY, recent history tells us we will get some key players crocked and inevitably we will drop some points against poorer opposition while continuing to play well against the Big 3. I have a good feeling – Two years ago when we were SOOO close to a league victory barring freak injury against Rosicky and Eduardo and a meltdown at Birmingham combined with some poor officiating, nobody thought we could win it. We have been written off this year – I say don’t write us off yet! Come on you Gooners!

  • IndianGooner

    Tony, One small request. Once you read all the comments on your previous post and the post sent by LRV, can you please post an entry on Arsenal’s pre-season form and the positivity(which is always present on this site)? We had some good discussions in your last post but would like to know your opinions on that..

    Hope to see LRV’s post soon and your view on Arsenal’s pre-season performance.

  • bashir njuki-Uganda

    Thats fantasctic and i love the fact that you stressed all those points..I will agree with you..Arsenal is so much stronger that people realise

  • Paul

    Nice to have you back Tony! Been hard while you’ve been away. What with all the negativity despite our excellent preseason. Can’t wait for the Saturday match. And there have been some fresh injury rumours on Rosicky. Anyone have info on that?

  • Christianjimmy

    May I add my voice to the (inevitable) thousands welcoming you back! For the last few days the last article wasnt able to take anymore comments… torture!
    Think you’ll find we’ve got everything sorted in your absence though!
    Am hoping the Rosicky injury rumour is simply rumour, apparently from Ian Wrights TALKsport show. Personally, despite his great record at Arsenal, I wouldnt trust him as a source at all. But then I really did HATE his presenting of Gladiators on Sky, so maybe my opinion is coloured by that.
    I think we’ve got ever more reasons to be cheerful this forth-coming season – and your post tony lists them well… BRing on the season

  • waltergooner

    Nice to see you back and to read your blog.
    I also heard the rumours on Rosicky and really hope this is false. He was looking good I thought. Damn if true.

    I really feel confident for the new season. I thinkt that for the first time we have at every position enough players to fill in and to help us over injuries. But not if the doomscenario’s take place and the whole midfield is injured at the same time

  • Thank God you’re back Tony. The big bad world went crazy while you were gun. Grab your keyboard and start setting it right, one witty punchy article at a time.

  • I’ve read through everything that has been written on the site in the last 2 weeks, and cleared the backlog of comments that went into moderation.

    On a technical point, the comments section closed down a few days ago because of a setting in the program which I have now changed. Sorry about that.

    Reading all the comments it is interesting how they gradually got more and more positive as everyone began to see exactly what the Lord Wenger has been up to with his revised squad. The Ems Cup was not a chance for young players to get a run-out with the big boys, but an experiment in the new 4-3-3 format allowing the established team players plus Merida to show how it works.

    I don’t think I have seen so much positivity ever before in one set of comments. My conclusions are

    a) You don’t need me here – just talk among yourselves and all the good points come out

    b) I should take more holidays.

    I will, of course, keep writing blogs, because I quite enjoy it, and I need an audience to promote “Making the Arsenal” too, when it is published in the autumn, but I believe that just as Wenger has now brought together his new perfect team, and his new perfect format, so we have brought together a collection of like minds on this blog.

    Of course as pointed out in the commentary this is not the only site where positive commentaries happen. A Cultured Left Foot does indeed have great articles – but what it misses is the reasoned argument in response. As “Adam Smith” – a regular contributor here pointed out to me a while back – the guy writes these terrific commentaries but doesn’t get the argued response that honours this site.

    I picked up bits and pieces about the Eduardo injury that wasn’t while I was away – and “Left Foot” is running the story today that Rosicky is out now – although as the commentaries say there, it doesn’t seem to be official. But even if he is out, I still think the ten points in today’s little article hold good. Just the simple fact that we have Arshavin for a whole season must be worth a few more points this coming year.

    And you know I wouldn’t be at all surprised if 4-3-3 doesn’t open the window in the team bus parked in front of the goal.

    Tony

  • Geezer1287

    I think we will most definitely finish above Liverpool this season, Man United have lost two of their hardest working players, and replaced them with a has been and an overpriced winger, if anything, our selling of Adebayor and toure, will have strengthend our team in the sense there is no disruptive influence, and more player will be fighting for a place. We just need a good start to the season, i dont think we will be “the invincibles” but this season will be a platform for some of the younger players to figure more prominently i.e vela, wilshere, ramsey, gibbs. Its gonna be an interesting season!”

  • KG

    Points 1,6,7,9 is a DEFINITE possibility this year too.
    As for people looking at pre-season “form”, pre-season is just what the name suggests .. dont read too much into it — remember Wilshire skinning Salgado against RM at last year’s Emirates Cup?

    As for this post-holiday post of yours — i second Ole Gunner’s thoughts above.

    Proper football is just a matter of days now :).

  • IndianGooner

    Tony, the reason for the positive comments were due to the performance of the players in the pre-season. Moreover, We all were tired of reading doom and gloom on most of the sites even after some excellent performances. I saw the Hannover96 match again couple of days back and loved every single bit of it inspite of winning the mtach 1-0.

    Moreover, I’m not worried about Rosicky’s injury if that is true.. Its was expected because He hasnt played for more than 18months. But I’m confident that he has a BIG part to play this year. He will be our secret weapon which we missed for 18months. And we have Eduardo, who seems to be back to his best. That is definitely gonna be 8-12points more because in matches where we create very few chances, he’ll score goals even then. His goal against the Rangers had a touch of Henry’s class.. It was simple in execution but excellent in technique..

  • prick

    It’s about time u came back Tony. Wilshere has run riot!

    There was an interesting post on TheSun yesterday about us shrinking.

    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/sport/football/2571828/Its-official-Arsenal-are-shrinking.html

    U might want to check that out. Quite an interesting read 🙂

  • daokta

    welcome back Tony. Missed your posts

  • LRV

    Thank Goodness, you are back Tony. Welcome back. I dare the Doomers to pass your 10 point test.

  • steww

    Hi Tony – hope you had a better holiday than I did.
    The reason the comments here are so much more positive is because you are so strict with the flamers, trolls and idiots. Any internet discussion is all too easily derailed with provocative jibes, you have made them unwelcome so good for you.
    One thing I must correct you on, the rate of exchange is actually £1 to 4 Triganic Pu. But then I wouldn’t expect a man of your stature to deal with fiddling small change.

  • Adam Smith

    Welcome back Tony.

    There has been no official announcement by the club with regards to Rosick’y injury,pure conjecture from The Sun, which lesser blogs have caught on to.

    I really enjoyed watching the guys on Sunday,and Jack is the nearest thing to Liam I have ever seen.We surely have an abundance of left footers.

    You may have read in the Guardian the conspiracy theory that Mr.Wenger felt it was time to break up the ANC lads for one reason or another,and subsequently sold Adebayor and Toure. Interesting read,but I believe just a theory.

  • Absolute nonsense=the height story. If height had any significant impact on the destination of the title, surely Stoke would be expected to finish higher than Liverpool?

  • steww

    Quite agree, the height thing is just another stick to beat us with. Skill and teamwork and superior tactics beat sheer size any day of the week.
    We must be careful of accepting the negative clichés about our club as if they are facts just because they are repeated ad infinitum.
    The rubbish about how physical teams in the north will brush us aside because we are so ‘lightweight’ makes me cringe. I’ve just re-watched our demolitions of Blackburn and Bolton last season. We were not brushed aside, we danced through them again and again, notably Denilson outran and passed them both. Facts people, not anti-Arsenal media generated dingos kidneys.

  • LRV

    The sad thing about the height story from the “dimming” Sun is that son so called Arsenal fans are allowing themselves to be egged on by it. Absolute nonsense. If it is true, why isn’t Liverpods winning the league each year?

  • LRV

    I meant to write “some so called”

    I wonder what these papers hope to gain by all these rubish that they write.

  • team spirit

    You write well having read a few of your blogs…

    Am fully with you on these things yo have written… I think a number of our nearly theres in the past twi seasons will com out well this season… Most expected of al is less injuries!

  • Thomas_Coutts

    Welcome back Tony, been looking forward to your post Emirates Cup comments, and as usual excellent.
    Looking forward to my daily fix

    Thumbs up!

  • Nhan Le

    Welcome back, Tony! Hope you had a great holiday!

  • Faron

    Welcome Back Tony. looking forward to your next article.

  • Anyone believe that RVP slows down play? That’s what ‘fans’ have been arguing recently and that he needs many touches to get himself balanced. Thats was quite a shock when I first heard it; he isn’t quite as good with his back to goal but has got a good shield.

    Not to detract from what is a fantastic blog (hope you had a good holiday), I’m hoping also my blog is positive although I don’t want to sound too biased or emotional. It is tactical, so really for the technoraks.

  • FunGunner

    Nice to have you back, Tony.

  • prick

    Hey the height story was kinda cool! Loosen up people. It was fun reading that 🙂 Doesn’t mean u have to take it to heart.

  • Odun

    Thank God you are back. Your absence made me read some stupid, written- without- thinking posts. Can you please make your posts twice daily to cover for the lost time. Miss you

  • Odun

    Welcome back the true gonner.

  • steww

    Sorry prick – I’m a very passionate man when it comes to the endless knocking of my team in the media so I do and absolutely will take any jibe, negative made up nonsense and unjustified criticism to heart.
    I find jokes about Spurs or man u funny, not ones about Arsenal.

  • Marc

    Hi Tony,

    Good to have you back and I hope that you had a great time on holiday. I’m to tired to even begin to debate the negative views. I will be back tomorrow though.

  • pig

    good to see you back tony. ten good points well made. i am sure this will be tomas’ season. when he played in the last few matches he gave his all, no pulling back or shielding himself. i would say it is inevitable that he sustains some lesser injuries whilst coming back from such a long time on the bench.

    i too get the feeling that the team is complete. obviously purchases will be made, but with the first team players we already have and the continual flush of new talent from the youth division, the team is self sustaining.

    cant wait till it all kicks off

  • don't believe the hype

    Welcome back Tony – you’ve been missed as we need all the positive bloggers we can get to counteract the unbelievable negativity out there!

    Couldn’t agree more Steww @ 4.42 pm – that attitude shows a lack of respect towards our players and club.

  • Faron

    dont believe the hype, A lot of our fans dont respect the players what chance have we got with the Lazy Journo’s. Saying that i agree with prick. i wasnt that bad. And i will make it more sweeter if we win the league.

  • Faron

    “it wasnt that bad. And it will: is what i mean

  • I really like your blog and i respect your work. I’ll be a frequent visitor.

  • prick

    It’s fine steww 🙂

    What I laugh about is not the joke about Arsenal. What I laugh about is the fact that the media adores us so much, that the height of the team have become an issue. Next, they will say our players slept too early at night, or have 20ml more milk than spuds every breakfast.

    Sorry you didn’t find it funny.

  • steww

    Sorry – it’s just me getting over sensitive. There are so many journalists and so called fans queuing up to knock us it gets me cross sometimes.
    I should be grateful everyone is underestimating us. Whenever I get fed up I just re-watch another game from last season and purr quietly to myself about how good this team can be.

  • Waleed

    This is sort of what I was thinking.
    Compared to last season we are in much better shape.

    1) we don’t have a disruptive captain.
    2) we don’t have dressing room issues and there is unity within the squad which was missing at the start of last season.
    3) we have Eduardo and Rosicky back. I don’t think we can expect much playing time from Rosicky during the first half of the season but I think both of them will play crucial roles.
    4)We will have Arshavin available for the whole season and the champions league.
    5)We were playing with a completely new midfield last season. We lost Rosicky, Hleb, Flamini and even Cesc before the season started. And then Cesc missed 4 more months in the season. This time around we have a team that has played with each other for at least a season and so they will have a better understanding with eachother and better chemistry.
    6)Our young players are one year older and more experienced. We can expect Denilson and Song to grow even more and Vela, Ramsey, and Wilshere should be ready to start some games when needed.

    All of those things make us better than we were last season. Surely we have improved enough to give us at least 10 or so more points. Which will put us in the 80+ range which is a potentially title winning sum.

  • a simpson

    since Gary lewin left we have had soo many injuries, I think we will have quite a few injuries again, what is going on.

    I do however think people have already started saying we are fifth place which is absolute rubbish, I dont think we will win the league but for the first time i can see us winning something, one trophy could start something really special.

    I think we need to go back to the formula that one us trophies and made us dominate the league which is:

    1) a strong spine, Goalkeeper, centre defence, central midfield and striker. we use to have lehman, campbell, viera, henry. I think we are missing a 30 goal a season striker, I wish theo could step into this role that pace can be devastating if he could finish better, but henry was a poor finsher at first so hopefully.

    2) we always ahd midfielders who would chip 12- 15 goals a season ie. pires and ljungberg

    3) they always knew how to win even if they didnt deserve it. the past two years we havent been consistent and hopefully if tony is right and they dont have the injuries maybe consistency will improve.

    4) we never used to lose to the likes of hull, and the past two years we have had far too many draws

    I think arsenals best game and best team is up there with anyone

  • Andrew

    WOW! This is by far the most intelligent Arsenal blog i’ve seen on the internet. Added to favs’ B) !